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Sheila McHale

Sheila McHale

Research by the Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit (WEPAU), under the directorship of Dr Alison Preston and Dr Siobhan Austen, is responding to a growing void in the gender analysis of the economic and social policy issues that confront women. WEPAU's research aims to challenge the argument held by many policy makers that markets are blind to gender and thus not discriminatory.

In September, the Hon. Sheila McHale, Minister for Community Development, launched one of WEPAU's major research reports, How Much Further? Women's Progress, Goals and Status in WA. The study sought information about women's perceptions of their economic and social progress and status.

The study found that although women have made progress in areas such as access to education and broader career opportunities, many women still identify financial independence and the need for appropriate structures to accommodate work and family commitments as pressing priorities.

WEPAU is also conducting ongoing research into the Australian retirement income system. Researchers have found that a typical woman with average earnings will struggle to achieve a private retirement income significantly different from minimum levels provided under the current aged pension. So long as pension policies continue to be formulated with the male breadwinner model in mind, the majority of women in Australia will remain poor in retirement.

Other WEPAU projects include research into nursing labour markets, the incidence and characteristics of women in self-employment, and women's access to private and public housing.

 

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